Can one imagine a modern-day Football World Cup in which there is no Brazil, Argentina or Germany? It’s almost unthinkable, in fact it is absurd.
The same way it once was to imagine a Hockey World Cup without Pakistan. And yet, last year this is exactly what happened. What’s more, this year the Pakistan hockey side even failed to qualify for the next Summer Olympics!
It’s been a slow and painful decline that began when Pakistan not only lost the World Cup title in the 1986 World Cup in England, but also came 11th in the 12-team-event.
Pakistan hockey’s down fall now seems complete. The game could just fade away (and it nearly has, with Pakistan hockey having no infrastructure what so ever), but the problem is, it is still officially Pakistan’s national sport.
Pakistan was a formidable Hockey team between 1965-1980 winning 3 consecutive Gold medals in the Olympics, winning the hockey world cup 4 times and the champion trophy thrice. In Pakistan in the 1970’s, pictures, posters and interviews of the Pakistan hockey players outnumbered those of the cricketers. Since the 1970’s, Pakistan hockey has gone down on a total demise. Why has this happened? Because of a sport which got more famous to the Pakistanis.
Cricket (with its promise of better financial rewards and glamour) was slowly replacing hockey in schools and colleges. And since much of the hockey was now being played on AstroTurf, Pakistan oddly had just two Astroturf stadiums, despite the fact that it was the world’s number one side. This was one of the reason as to why Pakistan hockey demised.
Hockey clubs in the country still played and trained their players on grass and these players struggled when they get selected to play at the top level local tournaments on Astroturf. This shows the incompetency of the board.
This year when Pakistan touredfor the qualifications of the RIO Olympics, there match fee was only $20 per match compared to Australia’s $800. Pakistan had to be start the match with dates and almonds which were given by the fans in the stands.
I would say there is only one way to obtain Pakistan back in hockey as the best in the world. Restructure the Pakistan Hockey Federation and de-politicize the Federation.
To conclude, Hockey needs a team as Pakistan to make the sport interesting. The pace and the solid defense is something the Hockey World is missing.